What's a vacation without a little wine? After days of Staycation renovations, Roger and I decided to treat ourselves to a little R&R at a B&B in picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake, complete with a guided wine adventure with Niagara Vintage Wine Tours. I took a few (okay more than a few) pictures to highlight our favourite parts of the trip.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Niagara-on-the-Lake, I HIGHLY recommend Ranger's Retreat. Managed by retired restaurants owners, Brian and Jan, this upgraded tudor-style house has everything you'd ever need in a Bed & Breakfast and more--fuzzy slippers, an outdoor sauna, Niagara heritage books, a basket of "in-case-you-forgot-me" items. There are 4 bedrooms (two with balconies) and each have their own bathroom.
Tea time was a must...
Especially when we had this gem of a collection to work with! English Breakfast was our tea of choice.
Pictures out by the pool.
The house and the gardens were immaculate.
We had a little time to kill between our arrival at the B&B and our departure for the wine tour. We opted for lunch at Epicurean (they have gluten-free bread for sandwiches!) and we had a blast meandering through the quaint little shoppes and museums of Niagara-on-the-Lake. I though this sign was punny.
Inlaid wood flooring at the Prince of Wales hotel.
The thing I love most about the region is how wonderfully landscaped everything is! Downtown was a horticultural dream and the surrounding neighbourhoods were just as pretty.
We walked through the Trisha Romance museum. Some of her original paintings are valued at $45000. Our reprints will do just fine.
We picked up some awesome coasters to facilitate safe wine drinking at home.
Our private chauffeur picked us up at five for the tour. This was the other tour bus--we rode in style in a Mercedes SUV (not that I'm bragging or anything!) Haha, I think the other patrons were a little jealous...
We tried a few grapes--they were tart and very seedy, but they make for great wine!
Pondview Estates winery was our first stop. At only 3 years old, it has already achieved world-renowned status for its Chardonnay.
Highlight of the trip--Icewine in dark chocolate cups!!
Seconds after experiencing this little taste of heaven, I started Pinteresting ways to make chocolate cups. This recipe will revolutionize the party shot... at least in my kitchen.
Couples photo at Pilliteri Estates.
Our tour guide was fantastic. We caught a glimpse of the wine cellar where they keep all their barrels.
The last winery we visited was Peller Estates. Driving up to the building, we got a sense that this winery was a big deal. It is stunning in both size and appearance. The hospitality; however, was a little amiss. The wines were yummy, but I wish we would have gotten a guided tour 🙁
A 3 course dinner and wine pairing at Zee's was included in our tour package. Roger is making a Roger face while we wait for our waitress.
Everything on the menu was organic and locally-grown. This was Roger's Ribeye--much too rare for me!
We awoke to a delectable selection of local artisan cheeses, homemade bread, fresh organic fruit, and homemade chutneys, jams, and spreads. The neat thing about B&B style accommodations is meeting new people; we sat down for breakfast with a recently married, retired couple from New York.
Mushroom & herb omelette with cheese, asparagus, and grilled tomatoes courtesy of our host and former restaurant owner, Brian.
One thing is for sure--we would go back to Ranger's Retreat in a heartbeat! One night seemed too short a stay, so next time we will stay for two and perhaps enjoy some light reading by the pool. The tudor-style home was one you can easily find comfort in, despite it not being your own.
As exceptional a time we had exploring Niagara-on-the-Lake, there are a few things we plan to do differently next time around. Firstly, we would not need to pay as much for the wine tour as we did. Don't get me wrong--Niagara Vintage Wine Tour was fun and informative, but very pricey. We would have been better off to take a few complimentary tasting cards from the B&B to experience the wineries on our own. The tricky thing would be finding transportation; we might have to bring/rent bicycles or hire a driver. Totally doable.
All-in-all we liked the small vineyards the best. They're not so hoity-toity and they really value your business. Plus I love it when the family members come out to meet you and conduct the wine tasting sessions themselves... for a brief second I think "I could definitely run a vineyard"... and then I think "Nah, I'll just drink the wine." We are now big fans of Icewine--80% of the world's supply is produced in Canada--and I'm so excited to have some in my fridge right now. Dark chocolate Icewine shots are my new guilty pleasure. Beau chapeaus are a close second.